Windows software – gHacks Technology News http://www.ghacks.net The independent technology news blog Sun, 26 Mar 2017 19:51:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 Manage your TV show collection with Free TvDB http://www.ghacks.net/2016/02/06/manage-your-tv-show-collection-with-free-tvdb/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/02/06/manage-your-tv-show-collection-with-free-tvdb/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 17:31:06 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=118126 Free TvDB is a program for the Windows operating system that assists you in managing your TV show collection. Keeping track of TV shows you are interested in or collecting can be difficult especially if you are not only watching shows but also collecting them. Free TvDB has been designed for two main purposes: keeping […]

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Free TvDB is a program for the Windows operating system that assists you in managing your TV show collection.

Keeping track of TV shows you are interested in or collecting can be difficult especially if you are not only watching shows but also collecting them.

Free TvDB has been designed for two main purposes: keeping an overview of your TV show collection, and looking up information about shows you are interested in.

The program can scan directories on your computer to speed up the process of adding shows to its database. That's an excellent option if you have stored series or episodes on a storage medium connected to the computer.

The scan returns a list of shows which you can need to go through to add those discovered to the program's database. You end up with multiple suggestions for shows usually as the program seems to use directory names only to determine the show's title.

Free TvDB

Data is downloaded from the free The TvDB website automatically as soon as a show gets added to the program's database.

free tv db

The downloaded data is extensive ranging from a list of all seasons and episodes over cast to images, posters and fan art.

Each episode of a show is listed with a description, title, air date, PG rating, network and whether the show is still ongoing or has ended.

While you cannot edit those information, you may set the status of an episode to watched and set a location for it which defines where it is kept (e.g. DVD case or library).

Some contents are downloaded when they are selected. This is for instance the case when you switch to the images tab in the program after selecting a TV series or episode. Free TvDB downloads images from the International Movie Database and displays them in its interface afterwards.

You may use the search provided by the program to add TV shows this way. This is useful if you want to add shows that are not available in digital form. To do that, click on the "add series" tab in the interface and enter a title or part of a title.

Free TvDB saves the information to a local database of which it creates backups from regularly. It will furthermore check for updates once a week to update show information and add new episodes to shows that are still airing..

Closing Words

The application is a useful program for users who want to keep track of their TV show collection, or access TV show information in a local database.

If there is one thing that it lacks, it is that it does not allow you to link to episodes available in digital format or at streaming services which means that you have to interact with two windows all the time while using the program and not just one.

Now You: Do you use software to keep track of TV shows / movies?

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Stream Detector reveals Alternate Data Streams on NTFS drives http://www.ghacks.net/2016/01/20/stream-detector-reveals-alternate-data-streams-on-ntfs-drives/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/01/20/stream-detector-reveals-alternate-data-streams-on-ntfs-drives/#comments Wed, 20 Jan 2016 09:45:32 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=118091 NoVirusThanks Stream Detector is a free program for the Windows operating system that allows you to scan entire NTFS hard drives or folders on them for alternate data streams. Every file on a storage device formatted with the NTFS file system has at least one data stream assigned to it. It is called the unnamed […]

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NoVirusThanks Stream Detector is a free program for the Windows operating system that allows you to scan entire NTFS hard drives or folders on them for alternate data streams.

Every file on a storage device formatted with the NTFS file system has at least one data stream assigned to it. It is called the unnamed data stream and executed when you double-click on files or when you run files from the command prompt.

One special feature of NTFS is that files can contain multiple data streams. Unlike the default unnamed data stream, these data streams are all named making the distinction easy; Every alternate data stream is named.

If you want, think of files with Alternative Data Streams as multiple files packed into a single file. Applications include hiding content in files as Windows does not reveal information about alternate data streams to the user by default.

Stream Detector

Stream Detector is a third-party program that you can use to display alternate data streams of files residing on NTFS storage devices.

stream detector

The program needs to be installed before it can be run on the system. The interface is basic but sufficient for what it offers.

Select a folder that you want to scan, and decide whether you want sub directories scanned and zone.identifier streams ignored (both selected by default).

You may also scan specific file types or names only by using the file mask filter (set to scan all files by default).

A click on the scan button starts the process. The time it takes to scan the selected folder structure depends on the selected preferences, the number of files found in the folder, and the speed of the hard drive or storage medium.

Stream Detector displays its findings immediately while it scans in its interface. Each file is displayed with its name, the stream name and type, content type and other information if available.

A right-click on a file displays a set of operations that include opening the folder, and extracting or deleting alternate data streams.

Extraction of alternate data streams is the only option to access these data streams using the application. Stream Detector places them in the extracts folder from where they can be further investigated or run.

You may also create alternate data streams using Stream Detector. Select File > Create File Alternate Data Stream to start the process.

create alternate data stream

Pick a host file, the file that you want to join with it, and a stream name to create a file with an alternate data stream.

Closing Words

Stream Detector is a handy program to detect, extract and create alternate data streams. While that is the case, it is not the only program that does that.

It is also mildly annoying that the program opens a page on the developer website after installation automatically without giving users the chance to prevent this from happening.

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QuickTextPaste is a tiny text pasting program for Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2015/12/09/quicktextpaste-is-a-tiny-text-pasting-program-for-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/12/09/quicktextpaste-is-a-tiny-text-pasting-program-for-windows/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2015 08:11:08 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=117734 QuickTextPaste is a free portable program for the Windows operating system that enables you to paste pre-defined text quickly using hotkeys, and to run special pre-defined commands on top of that. Automation can speed up workflows, and if you type words, phrases or other text regularly, you may have thought about automating the process. This […]

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QuickTextPaste is a free portable program for the Windows operating system that enables you to paste pre-defined text quickly using hotkeys, and to run special pre-defined commands on top of that.

Automation can speed up workflows, and if you type words, phrases or other text regularly, you may have thought about automating the process.

This can be an email address that you use regularly, a signature when commenting on web forums or blogs, or a Windows command.

QuickTextPaste enables you to add all of those to its database so that you can paste the information into any text field that is active on the device, or to run commands that you have configured previously.

QuickTextPaste Review

quicktextpaste

The program ships with example data providing you with the opportunity to test the functionality right away. A tap on Q+Left Windows key for instance pastes an email address to the active text field while a menu opens when you hit C+Left Windows key.

The latter happens because more than one entry is mapped to the shortcut. If you map multiple entries to a key, a menu is displayed that you use to select the entry that you want to paste or run.

This can be useful to add multiple run commands to a menu to run software based on what you want to do, or multiple email addresses to use those that you require for the email you are about to write.

The creation of new entries is quick and easy. Add text that you want to paste or run, add an optional menu text that is displayed if the same shortcut key is used already, and select a modifier and key on the keyboard to invoke it.

Modifiers include Left or Right Windows Key, AltGr, or Ctrl and Alt but unfortunately not Alt, Shift or Ctrl on their own.

The following commands are available on top of pasting text directly:

  • run: to run the selected program, e.g. run:explorer.exe d:\ to start a new Windows Explorer instance and display drive d: directly.
  • cpy: to copy text and start another program, e.g. cpy:notepad.exe "%cpy%" which copies the selected text and pastes it in to Notepad.
  • img: to load an image and paste it to the active program, e.g. img: email.gif.
  • charmap: to display a character map that enables you to quickly pick special characters such as ❤♜♕
  • %pptxt% pastes plain text from the clipboard into the foreground application.

You can use data and time formats as well. They use the standard format %M%, %D%, %YY%, %hh% and so on.

The best way to edit entries in QuickTextPaste is to click on the detach icon in the main interface as it opens a new edit window that improves the process significantly as it provides quicker access to all entries, supports window resizing and more.

QuickTextPaste uses less than 2 Megabytes of memory when it is running. It is a useful program for users who want to automate certain tasks on their Windows system. Since it supports more than "just" copying previously created text snippets, it can be used to make other tasks such as starting programs, opening Internet websites or copying and pasting highlighted text more effective.

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Start programs with different settings on Windows with AdvancedRun http://www.ghacks.net/2015/10/07/start-programs-with-different-settings-on-windows-with-advancedrun/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/10/07/start-programs-with-different-settings-on-windows-with-advancedrun/#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 09:24:27 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=116529 AdvancedRun is a free portable program for Windows that allows you to configure different startup settings such as window position and size, the user account a program is started with or command line arguments. Windows allows you to modify how programs start using the properties window. There you may define compatibility settings, arguments or the […]

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AdvancedRun is a free portable program for Windows that allows you to configure different startup settings such as window position and size, the user account a program is started with or command line arguments.

Windows allows you to modify how programs start using the properties window. There you may define compatibility settings, arguments or the window state to create a custom launch experience for that program.

AdvancedRun improves these options significantly in two core ways. First, it makes them available all on a single screen so that you don't need to open the properties dialog of a program anymore or switch tabs in the dialog to make modifications to the program's startup parameters.

The second benefit is that it makes available additional parameters that Windows' program properties dialog does not offer.

advanced run

The following options are provided by AdvancedRun:

  • Add command line arguments.
  • Define a start directory.
  • Set the process priority.
  • Set the window state.
  • Set window position (x,y) and window size (width, height).
  • Run the program as a different user, with or without elevation.
  • Set the process affinity mask.
  • Define compatibility settings.
  • Select to use current system environment variables, use custom environment variables or merge system and custom variables.
  • Use search path to find the program location if no full path is defined.
  • Parse the environment variables inside the command line string before passing it to the program.

Some examples of what you can use AdvancedRun for

  • Run a program as another user on the system with or without elevation, for instance regedit as the System user to access the HLKM\Security key.
  • Run a program with a different process priority, for instance high if it requires it or lower than normal.
  • Use custom environment variables and have the default system variables ignored in the process without touching the default variables.
  • Make sure a program starts always at the same location using the same window width and height when you run it.

How it works

launch program custom start parameters

AdvancedRun is a portable program that you can run from any location on the system. It uses a cfg file by default to load the previous configuration on start.

You will notice that there is only one config file that you can load into AdvancedRun. In addition, you may not want to run AdvancedRun each time you want to run a program with a specific configuration.

The program supports command line parameters that you utilize to run a specific config file. The basic command for that is /run "config file" to run the specified config file from the command line.

It is easy enough to use a shortcut or batch file to automate this process so that you only need to click on that file to run the defined program with the custom configuration options.

In addition to selecting a config file to start AdvancedRun with, you may add other parameters directly as command line parameters. This includes /RunAs, /ExeFilename or /CommandLine to name a few.

Closing Words

You notice a slight delay when executing programs using AdvancedRun. It is worth it though in my opinion considering that it provides you with better control over program startups on Windows.

What I like specifically about the program is that it displays all options on a single screen, and that it makes available options such as RunAs or Window Position and Window Size that may improve how you work with programs on Windows.

The program could use an option to create a basic shortcut file based on configurations as you are required to do that on your own currently.

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NetStalker checks and notifies you of Internet connections in real-time http://www.ghacks.net/2015/07/11/netstalker-checks-and-notifies-you-of-internet-connections-in-real-time/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/07/11/netstalker-checks-and-notifies-you-of-internet-connections-in-real-time/#comments Sat, 11 Jul 2015 12:59:15 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114695 Do you know which programs and processes access the Internet on your computer and why? While it is easy enough to tell for programs that won't really work without Internet, web browsers for instance, it is often the case that the sheer number of system processes and programs that connect to the Internet is surprising. […]

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Do you know which programs and processes access the Internet on your computer and why? While it is easy enough to tell for programs that won't really work without Internet, web browsers for instance, it is often the case that the sheer number of system processes and programs that connect to the Internet is surprising.

I like to check these on my machines regularly to make sure only those that I'm comfortable with happen. One of the programs that I use for this is the excellent CurrPorts by Nirsoft.

NetStalker feels in many regards like an improved version of CurrPorts. It displays all network activity on start but instead of refreshing the list on demand only, it is refreshing it in real-time to make sure it catches new connections as they happen.

Attention: The installer will install third-party programs without prompt. In particular, it installs Health Alert and Wajam on systems. The portable version is clean and won't do that. We suggest you use the portable version of the program because of this.

netstalker internet connections

Apart from that, it displays prompts whenever it catches a new program connecting to the Internet to give you options on how to handle it.

The main program interface lists process names, protocols, local and remote addresses as well as the process' location on the system.

A right-click on a row displays a context menu with options related to that process and connection. This includes options to kill the process or close the connection, to resolve the host or copy the remote address, and to create a new rule which enables you to allow or block connections permanently.

Rules and policies work independently from other security software that you may use or have installed on your system.

The program ships with two policy files that consist of a number of rules that determine which ports and addresses are allowed and rejected. You will still receive prompts if programs try to access the Internet using any of the select address/port combinations but will notice that everything else is rejected outright.

It is important to make sure all required ports are accepted by the program and that ports that may not be required are not.

default policies

This can be done under Policy in the program interface. The program uses a normal policy file by default but ships with a high policy file as well which you can load. The core difference is that fewer ports are accepted by default by the high policy file.

NetStalker ships with options to pause the real-time monitoring of connections or the filtering at any time via the filter menu. There you find the list of filtered processes which lists all programs that tried to access the Internet while the program was running.

Policies can be saved and you may create new ones as well from within the program. This can be useful if you want to import the set of rules on another machine.

Closing Words

What I like the most about NetStalker is that it goes beyond the reporting of processes with network connections. While that is certainly useful, the notification prompts it displays, the real-time monitoring and the option to block or allow certain address/port combinations makes it that more useful.

The main difference to a firewall is the program's simplicity when compared to most firewall solutions for Windows. Plus, it is available as a portable program that you can run from any location on the system.

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Wallpapers Bot brings thousands of wallpapers to your system http://www.ghacks.net/2015/07/08/wallpapers-bot-brings-thousands-of-wallpapers-to-your-system/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/07/08/wallpapers-bot-brings-thousands-of-wallpapers-to-your-system/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 06:37:08 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114674 Thousands of sites on the Internet offer free wallpapers which make dedicated wallpaper programs for operating system something that most users don't require to find and set new wallpapers on their systems. Wallpapers Bot is a free program for Windows that offers access to more than 30,000 different wallpapers currently that you can browse, download […]

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Thousands of sites on the Internet offer free wallpapers which make dedicated wallpaper programs for operating system something that most users don't require to find and set new wallpapers on their systems.

Wallpapers Bot is a free program for Windows that offers access to more than 30,000 different wallpapers currently that you can browse, download and set using the application.

The program displays thumbnails of the most recent wallpapers added to its database on launch. You can browse those as you see fit, change sorting options at the top, or use the built-in search to find specific wallpapers of interest (e.g. cars, New York, Fallout or gaming).

wallpapers bot

The list of wallpapers is updated quickly when you use the built-in search or other filtering options, and the application itself is very responsive through and through.

Apart from using the search, you may switch the sort order from data to popularity. This displays the most popular wallpapers in the program while honoring other filters.

If you have searched for Fallout for instance and then switched to the popularity filter, you will get only the results sorted this way.

You may also explore tags that the program makes available which are broader categories such as video games, space or animals.

This filters wallpapers so that only only matching ones are displayed.

While the browsing works really well, it is the downloading that Wallpapers Bot shines lacks a bit in. A click on a wallpaper you are interested in displays options to set it as the desktop background or to download it to the system.

Downloads don't happen immediately when you click on download though as you are redirected to another page where you pick the download directory and hit save again to complete the process.

There you also find a "show details" link that reveals the wallpaper resolution among other things.

download wallpaper

The same process triggers when you click on the "set as background" button instead.

Closing Words

Wallpaper Bots selection of wallpapers is excellent and the program itself is very responsive to user input.

The program has a couple of usability issues which make it less usable than it could be. Apart from the already mentioned two-click process to download or set wallpapers, there is also no option provided to filter by resolution.

Last but not least, an option to download multiple wallpapers at once would be handy as well.

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Look up domain information with WhoisCL for Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2015/07/06/look-up-domain-information-with-whoiscl-for-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/07/06/look-up-domain-information-with-whoiscl-for-windows/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 07:40:29 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114629 WhoisCL is a free portable program for Windows that you run from the command line to look up Whois information of domains. While you can use web services for that as well, you may find the program useful in some situations, for instance when services go down or when they require that you fill out […]

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WhoisCL is a free portable program for Windows that you run from the command line to look up Whois information of domains.

While you can use web services for that as well, you may find the program useful in some situations, for instance when services go down or when they require that you fill out a captcha before information are displayed.

The program supports a large number of whois servers that it queries for information. You can check out the full list here on this page on the Nirsoft website.

While it does not cover all domain extensions out there, it covers many important ones including com, net, org, as well as many country extensions.

You need to run the program from the command line. Since it is portable, you can do so from any location on the system. Please note that it requires access to the Internet on port 43 as it queries whois servers to retrieve information this way.

whoiscl windows whois look up

To use it open a command prompt, switch to the directory of WhoisCL and run it. If you run it without parameters you get the list of parameters and several examples.

To check a domain name, you can either run WhoisCL example.com, WhoisCL -r example.com to remove remark lines from the returned record, WhoisCL -n example.com to use xx.whois-servers.net instead of the internal listing to look up the information, and -socks4 or socks5 to use a proxy server for the look up.

Results are returned in the same window as you can see on the screenshot above. Unlike other Nirsoft applications, this one does not support the export of data to different formats.

You can however use the > example.txt output option to save the information to the example.txt file in the same directory, e.g. whoiscl.exe -r ghacks.net > ghacks.txt.

Tip: if you prefer a graphical user interface you may want to use Whois This Domain instead which offers similar functionality. The program offers several advantages over the command line version, for instance the ability to load a list of domains on start that are processed by it one after the other.

Closing Words

WhoisCL is a specialized program to look up Whois information. It supports a large number of whois services but can display only one result at a time. If you need more, or prefer a graphical user interface, you may want to use Whois This Domain instead which offers all of its functionality.

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My Last Search reveals what you searched for on the Internet http://www.ghacks.net/2015/07/05/my-last-search-reveals-what-you-searched-for-on-the-internet/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/07/05/my-last-search-reveals-what-you-searched-for-on-the-internet/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 07:30:41 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114621 My Last Search is a free portable program for the Windows operating system that retrieves and displays the search history of popular browsers on the system. My Last Search may be useful if you want to get a quick overview of searches conducted on a system running Windows, either done by yourself or by other […]

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My Last Search is a free portable program for the Windows operating system that retrieves and displays the search history of popular browsers on the system.

My Last Search may be useful if you want to get a quick overview of searches conducted on a system running Windows, either done by yourself or by other users on the system.

The program supports several popular web browsers including Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer, and several search engines and other Internet sites.

As far as search engines are concerned, it supports Google, Yahoo and Bing currently. On top of that, it supports widely popular sites such as YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook.

The program retrieves information from web browsers that it recognizes on start. Since this means installed browsers by default, you may want to use command line options to retrieve the search history from portable browsers using the /loadfrom parameter followed by the path to the history folder of a supported browser.

my last search

Each search is listed in its own row in the interface which highlights the search term, the search engine or site used to conduct the search, when the search was run, in which browser it was run, how often the search was run and the full url to the query.

A search is provided as well that you can use to find items of interest. Since it matches what you type, you may not only use it to find search terms but also specific search engines, or filter results by date or time.

So how does it work? While that is not revealed in the program or by its author, it is likely that it parses the history files and databases for entries that match the supported search engines and popular sites, so that only those are listed in its interface in the end.

Search results can be re-opened in the default system browser, and the usual export options are provided to save the information to various formats including XML and HTML.

My Last Search supports several other parameters that define mostly the output format. The /sort parameter on the other hand provides you with options to sort the results according to your preferences, for instance by column or search text.

Information are only retrieved if data is available. If the web history is deleted regularly you may not get any results.

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Find and replace text with WildGem for Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/17/find-and-replace-text-with-wildgem-for-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/17/find-and-replace-text-with-wildgem-for-windows/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 08:34:47 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114331 WildGem is a free powerful text finder and replacement tool for Windows that supports regular expressions and real-time previews. Most text editors for Windows support find and replace functionality that allow you to replace select text in a document loaded in the editor. While that is often sufficient when it comes to basic operations, you […]

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WildGem is a free powerful text finder and replacement tool for Windows that supports regular expressions and real-time previews.

Most text editors for Windows support find and replace functionality that allow you to replace select text in a document loaded in the editor.

While that is often sufficient when it comes to basic operations, you may sometimes require a system that is more powerful than that, and this is what WildGem offers.

Note: The application requires the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 or higher.

It supports basic text replacement functionality as well but its real strength is the program's support for regular expressions and the way it is making those available.

The regular expressions syntax can be quite intimidating at first and while you can get started right away using it, WildGem displays various expressions as buttons in its interface which improve the use of regular expressions for beginners as it often involves a simple button click to use them in WildGem.

wildgem

First thing you want to do is paste text into the left pane of the editor which you want to modify. The program does not support the loading of text which on the one hand is beneficial as you don't have to worry about supported document formats but on the other hand problematic as you need to add text manually instead.

It supports no batch processing as well because of this.

Once you have added text to the left half of the interface, it is displayed in the right as well. As soon as you enter instructions in the Regex field however, it is modified in real-time as you type.

You may add any kind of text without expression and a replacement for it in the replace field, but the real strength of the program comes from its support of regular expressions.

It displays the selected regular expression and a symbol indicating it in its interface on selection. The main idea behind the use of symbols is that they are easier to use and understand than regular expressions.

The top bar lists options to use expressions of single or multiple characters. For instance, you may select the single letter expression to find and replace individual letters in the pasted text.

It is beneficial obviously when you know your way around regular expressions as you may run into advanced expressions otherwise that you may need to look up to fully understand.

The tooltips the program provides help a bit but they may not be sufficient for beginners who may need to look up the expressions then online to understand them fully.

Closing Words

WildGem is a powerful text replacement tool for Windows. It is ideal for users who know their way around regular expressions but useful as well for those who don't thanks to the buttons it provides.

The program would benefit from text import and batch editing functionality as well as additional regular expression instructions.

All in all though it is a powerful useful tool for Windows,

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Stream What You Hear streams sound to other devices http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/13/stream-what-you-hear-streams-sound-to-other-devices/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/13/stream-what-you-hear-streams-sound-to-other-devices/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2015 06:27:08 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114269 Sometimes, you may want to listen to audio on other devices than the one the audio is actually playing on. Maybe you want to listen to audio while you are in another room, for instance on your Xbox or Playstation system, or on a tablet while you are in the garden relaxing. Setting up streaming […]

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Sometimes, you may want to listen to audio on other devices than the one the audio is actually playing on. Maybe you want to listen to audio while you are in another room, for instance on your Xbox or Playstation system, or on a tablet while you are in the garden relaxing.

Setting up streaming solutions is not super easy though especially if you consider all the things that need to be configured to get it to work.

Stream What You Hear is a dead easy solution for Windows that enables you to stream sound (what you heard) from a PC running the program to compatible devices.

The application supports several stream discovery and streaming methods. If the secondary device you want to use supports UPnP/DLNA, then you can use that to quickly tune in and start listening.

Stream What You Hear has you covered if that is not the case, as it supports HTTP streaming as well.

The program needs to be installed but works right out of the box afterwards. If you use a device supporting UPnP/DLNA then you can tune in right away to start listening to the audio playing on the device the software is running on.

stream what you hear

If that is not the case, right-click on the system tray icon of the extension and select Tools > HTTP Live Streaming to display the streaming url instead.

Copy or enter the streaming url into another application on another device, for instance VLC Media Player, to tune in and listen to the audio stream.

If you are using VLC Media Player, it would require the following steps:

  1. Start Stream What You Hear on the primary system.
  2. Right-click the tray icon and select Tools > HTTP Live Streaming.
  3. Copy the url or take note of it.
  4. Open VLC Media Player on another device.
  5. Select Media > Open Network Stream or hit Ctrl-n on the keyboard.
  6. Enter the streaming url and select play afterwards.

It is even easier if the device supports UPnP/DLNA. If that is the case, all you need to do is select the Stream What You Hear device from the list of available media servers to start listening to the audio.

The software supports another feature that may be of interest to some. You may use it to record all audio that is playing on a PC by selecting Tools > Record what you hear from the program's system tray icon.

streaming settings

The settings enable you to make a couple of changes, for instance to switch from MP3 streams to PCM/L16 streams, to change the capture format and bitrate, or change the default port.

Verdict

Stream What You Hear is a dead easy program to stream audio to other devices on a network. It requires barely any configuration and should work out of the box in most cases.

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“I don’t want Windows 10” removes upgrade notifications from Windows 7 and 8 http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/10/i-dont-want-windows-10-removes-upgrade-notifications-from-windows-7-and-8/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/10/i-dont-want-windows-10-removes-upgrade-notifications-from-windows-7-and-8/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 09:18:29 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114212 If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you have probably come across Windows 10 upgrade notifications by now on the system. While upgrade notifications for Microsoft's upcoming operating system Windows 10 are not displayed on all systems -- there is a fix for that -- it is almost certain that it is displayed […]

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If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you have probably come across Windows 10 upgrade notifications by now on the system.

While upgrade notifications for Microsoft's upcoming operating system Windows 10 are not displayed on all systems -- there is a fix for that -- it is almost certain that it is displayed on the majority of devices running previous versions of Windows.

The offer allows you to reserve the upgrade for the device to download the required installation files early so that the upgrade is available right on the day Windows 10 is officially released by Microsoft.

That's not something that all Windows users want. Some may want to wait and see how Windows 10 performs before they make a decision. Others may want to wait for the first big patch to hit the system to make sure that the majority of launch bugs are fixed before they upgrade.

And then there are users who don't want to upgrade their systems to Windows 10. There are plenty of reasons for that: maybe they want to keep on using features that Microsoft removed in Windows 10, dislike the mandatory update policy of Windows 10 Home, don't want to spend time upgrading to the new system and configuring it afterwards, or are not interested in the new features that Windows 10 offers.

No matter the reason, it makes the upgrade notification on the system an annoyance.

windows 10 upgrade notification

While you can block Windows 10 upgrade notifications manually by removing system updates and blocking them from being installed again, for instance by running WUSA /UNINSTALL /KB:3035583 on the command prompt, you may also use I don't want Windows 10 for that.

The simple tool removes the update from supported operating systems so that the notifications are not displayed anymore on systems it is executed on.

The program removes the patch KB3035583 from operating systems running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Since you can do the same manually, there is little need for that tool unless you prefer to use a click-once tool for the operation.

i dont want windows 10

It is generally advised to perform the operation manually as you retain full control over the process this way. While the source of the tool is provided, you would need to audit it to make sure that it does the same thing and nothing else.

The author of the program plans to improve it in future releases, for instance by adding command line switches to it for automatic deployment.

Closing Words

If you want to get rid of the Windows 10 upgrade notification on a system running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, then you may use the program for that. It's only advantage currently is that it requires two clicks to perform the operation.

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Shiela USB Shield protects PCs against USB threats http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/06/shiela-usb-shield-protects-pcs-against-usb-threats/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/06/shiela-usb-shield-protects-pcs-against-usb-threats/#comments Sat, 06 Jun 2015 09:45:29 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114137 Shiela USB Shield is a free security program for Windows operating systems that protects PCs from USB threats. USB Devices are often used to spread malicious software. This can be software that replicates itself on USB devices or specifically prepared code to attack select systems only. The free Windows software Shiela USB Shield offers real-time […]

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Shiela USB Shield is a free security program for Windows operating systems that protects PCs from USB threats.

USB Devices are often used to spread malicious software. This can be software that replicates itself on USB devices or specifically prepared code to attack select systems only.

The free Windows software Shiela USB Shield offers real-time protection against threats coming from removable devices using USB connections.

Among the many features are protective measures to lock autorun.inf files on connected devices and the executable files they link to, drive vaccination and options to write protect or even disable USB Mass Storage on the system.

The program needs to be installed before it becomes available. Please note that it requires elevated rights as it will quit with an error message otherwise and that it requires the Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 or later.

Shiela USB Shield runs silently in the background for the most part. You may want to check the settings at least once though to make sure the application is configured properly.

shiela usb

The settings are quite extensive and divided on four tabs. The following may be particularly useful:

  • Add a virus scanner location or command which Shiela will use when it detects suspicious files.
  • Decide whether to automatically fix issues (default), or display warnings instead. The default action is set to freeze infected files, unhide files and folders on the device, add immunity to the infected drive, and return affected files and folders to their original paths.
  • Disable USB Mass Storage or set write protection.
  • Add file exceptions that are excluded from analysis.

The program's right-click context menu displays manual actions that you can run. You may run manual scans of select drives for instance, unhide files or folders on the drive so that they become visible, or select to vaccinate drives connected to the system.

shiela usb shield

It is theoretically possible to run manual operations on fixed drives as well but it is not recommended to do so as it has not been designed for that.

Shiela is compatible with all versions of Windows starting with Windows 2000. It is ideal to recover a system from attacks and to protect systems from attacks in first place.

Good antivirus software may provide similar means of protection though so that you may not need to run the program at all to protect a PC.

Closing Words

Shiela USB Shield is a straightforward easy to use program that adds another security layer to systems it is run on. The program consumes little memory while it is running and should not get in your way most of the time.

In fact, if you keep the automatic handling of infections and suspicious files then you may not notice it at all even if it becomes active in the background.

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RekSFV create and bulk check sfv, md5 and sha1 files http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/04/reksfv-create-and-bulk-check-sfv-mdf4-and-sha1-files/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/06/04/reksfv-create-and-bulk-check-sfv-mdf4-and-sha1-files/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 11:40:19 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114105 RekSFV is a free program for Windows that is available as a portable version and installer that verifies files in bulk using existing sfv, md5 and sha1 information. The program ships with options to create sfv, md5 or sha1 verification files. To do that, simply click on one of the available icons in the main […]

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RekSFV is a free program for Windows that is available as a portable version and installer that verifies files in bulk using existing sfv, md5 and sha1 information.

The program ships with options to create sfv, md5 or sha1 verification files. To do that, simply click on one of the available icons in the main program window and add one or multiple folders to the prompt that opens up to create verification files.

Please note that the program threw out of memory errors during sfv file generation while the generation of md5 files completed without issues.

File verification is useful in several situations, for instance to make sure that backups are not corrupt, that file downloads completed without transfer errors, or that important system files have not been tampered with.

To verify files, drag and drop a folder into the program interface containing at least one of the supported checksum files.

The program parses the folder structure recursively, checks for verification files, and uses the information in those files to verify the files referenced.

file integrity check reksfv

The check itself is fast and progress is displayed as a log output directly in the interface while checks are still being made.

The program highlights errors with a red background color so that you know immediately if files did not verify and the reason why.

First thing you may want to do if errors are found during a scan is to switch to the bad & missing file(s) tab. The tab lists all files with errors in the interface including the full file path, extension, reason why the check failed and the expected checksum.

A toolbar at the top and the right-click menu display several options to process these files. You may run a scan to find the missing files, delete all bad files or folder, move the folder with bad or missing files, or save the list to the clipboard.

One useful application of the program is to use it to verify backups. You generate checksums of files that you have backed up first, and verify the integrity of those backups later on then regularly to make sure that they are not corrupt and can be restored without issues.

RekSVF offers lots of customization options in the program settings. Use the settings to modify program behavior, define which information are displayed to you in the interface, or whether hidden files or folders should be added to the checksum file.

Closing Words

RekSFV supports the creation of checksum files and the verification of these files. While you can install it, you may also use the portable version of the program, for instance to verify files on discs or Flash drives regularly.

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Coolbarz adds up to four auto-hiding program launching toolbars to Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2015/05/31/coolbarz-adds-up-to-four-auto-hiding-program-launching-toolbars-to-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/05/31/coolbarz-adds-up-to-four-auto-hiding-program-launching-toolbars-to-windows/#comments Sun, 31 May 2015 07:41:34 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=114000 The option to pin programs, files or folders to the Windows 7 taskbar improved how I work with the operating system significantly. While that is a great way to have access to often used programs or files, it is limited to a single location on the screen. Coolbarz, a free program for Windows adds up […]

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The option to pin programs, files or folders to the Windows 7 taskbar improved how I work with the operating system significantly.

While that is a great way to have access to often used programs or files, it is limited to a single location on the screen.

Coolbarz, a free program for Windows adds up to four additional toolbars to Windows that auto-hide when they are not used.

Note: It requires the Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 to run.

You may add programs, shortcuts, Internet sites or files to each toolbar to launch them quickly from the locations they are displayed in.

It is up to you to add toolbars to one, several or all four locations (top, bottom, left, right) on the system.

coolbarz program

The available toolbars, their location and style are configured in the program settings. What you may find interesting there is the program's support for multi-monitor systems. If you use them, you may display some toolbars on secondary monitors instead of the primary display.

Other options provided include in-depth positional settings that define visibility, icon size or alignment of icons for each toolbar individually.

The sidebar toolbars display icons and titles by default, while the top and bottom toolbars only icons.

In addition to that, you may customize show and hide delays, and the maximum width of individual buttons.

Customization options don't end there though. You may change or disable the fading effect, force reduced memory usage or disable tooltips in the two other tabs provided in the settings.

There you also find a preview option which is also handy during initial configuration.

All toolbars are empty by default and it is up to you to fill them with life. A right-click on a toolbar displayed on the screen displays options to add individual items to it.

coolbarz demo

You may also drag and drop files to the toolbar directly which is a lot faster than using the "add files" menu to add individual files.

Still, the initial configuration, meaning adding programs and files, and arranging them, may take a while.

Items are removed from the toolbar with a right-click on them and the selection of "remove item" from the context menu that opens up. If you want to start over from the beginning, select "clear items" instead which removes them all in one swift operation.

Coolbarz uses quite a bit of memory when it is running in normal mode. This drops to a low amount when you enable the integrated memory reduction option in the settings.

Conclusion

Coolbarz is a highly configurable program for Windows that you can make use of to add up to four toolbars to primary or secondary displays individually. All toolbars are individually configurable, for instance to display some all the time and others only when you move the mouse into the area they are located in.

The program's quite useful, especially if you don't make use of the Windows taskbar, require more space for programs and shortcuts, or want to separate groups of programs from each other. (Thanks Jojo)

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Add date and time to all titlebars in Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2015/05/30/add-date-and-time-to-all-titlebars-in-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/05/30/add-date-and-time-to-all-titlebars-in-windows/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 07:24:00 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=113987 Titlebar Date-Time is a free program for the Windows operating system that adds date and time information to the active window of the operating system. Windows users who want to have date and time information visible on the system at all times may use the Windows taskbar for that. Depending on the version of Windows, […]

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Titlebar Date-Time is a free program for the Windows operating system that adds date and time information to the active window of the operating system.

Windows users who want to have date and time information visible on the system at all times may use the Windows taskbar for that. Depending on the version of Windows, a clock and time information may be displayed on it.

While a clock is displayed at all times if the taskbar is visible, the date is only displayed if you display large icons on the taskbar.

Large icons are the default setting which you can change in the taskbar properties to small icons to reduce the height of the taskbar on the system.

One side-effect of it is that the date is removed from the system tray area and only displayed when you hover the mouse over the clock.

date time titlebar display

Some users prefer to hide the taskbar, either all the time or automatically when it is not used.

Titlebar Date-Time is a free program for Windows that adds date and time information to the active window. It is compatible with all recent versions of Windows and does not seem limited to certain programs either as it worked fine on all program windows I tested it on.

It displayed date and time information on the window of Firefox, Google Chrome, Windows Explorer, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and Thunderbird to name a few of the supported programs.

The program ships with an extensive set of settings that allow you to modify its behavior.

settings

  1. Add seconds to date and time information.
  2. Show the number of the week.
  3. Use numerical dates.
  4. Add or remove leading zeros from month, day and hour.
  5. Change the text color and background color.
  6. Change the order in which date and time are displayed.
  7. Select whether to abbreviate weekdays and months.
  8. Hide or display the year.
  9. Switch between 12 hour and 24 hour system, and AM/PM indicator.

A click on advanced displays additional options. You may add characters before and after values displayed by the program, modify the position of the information on the titlebar, or use a different font instead.

An option to block the display in select programs is provided as well in the advanced options. This can be useful if you notice issues, for instance when programs run in fullscreen window mode.

advanced date time settings

Closing Words

Titlebar Date-Time is an excellent program. Not only is it compatible with all program windows, it is also using less than 3 Megabyte of RAM when it runs.

The settings offer great customization options and a program blacklist that you put misbehaving programs on. A portable version is provided on the download page as well for users who prefer that. (Thanks Jojo)

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HotKeysList displays globally registered Windows hotkeys http://www.ghacks.net/2015/04/02/hotkeyslist-displays-globally-registered-windows-hotkeys/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/04/02/hotkeyslist-displays-globally-registered-windows-hotkeys/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 07:59:41 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=112084 Global hotkeys can be quite useful on a system for instance to open the System Control Panel with Windows-Pause, to copy the screen to the Clipboard with the Print-key, or to open the Task Manager with Ctlr-Shift-Esc. One has to differentiate between native hotkeys and third-party hotkeys. Programs that you run on your Windows system […]

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Global hotkeys can be quite useful on a system for instance to open the System Control Panel with Windows-Pause, to copy the screen to the Clipboard with the Print-key, or to open the Task Manager with Ctlr-Shift-Esc.

One has to differentiate between native hotkeys and third-party hotkeys. Programs that you run on your Windows system can map hotkeys as well to provide you with access key functionality. Sometimes, these programs map Windows-keys which is for instance the case if you install a screenshot taking program. Most map Print so that they are used when you hit the key and not Windows' native function.

Problems can arise if multiple programs try to map the same hotkey. The solution in this case is to map different hotkeys to avoid conflicts if the program supports that option.

Some programs allow you to set new hotkeys or enable them which can be useful if you work with keyboard shortcuts regularly.

A core problem here is that you need to make sure that the hotkeys are not already mapped to another program on the system.

That's where HotKeysList comes into play. It is a brand new Nirsoft application that displays all global hotkeys that are currently in use.

hotkeyslist windows

Note that it does not display native hotkeys or hotkeys of programs that are not running currently. While that is a limitation, you may be able to work around that by starting all core programs on your system to make sure the majority of hotkeys are displayed by it.

Each hotkey is displayed in its own row in the program interface. There is no indication which program mapped it so that you may need to use them to find out about that. While that is not the most comfortable of solutions, it appears to be the only one that reveals the information to you.

You need to hit on the refresh button if you launch new programs after starting HotKeysList as new mapped hotkeys are not shown in its interface unless you do.

The information can be exported into various formats including text, XML and HTML. This may be useful, for instance if you want to print out the list of keys and add information to each item to list its functionality as well.

Verdict

The main purpose of HotKeysList is to make sure that hotkeys are not mapped already by other programs before you assign them in programs or to other functions of the operating system.

Information about the programs that mapped these hotkeys would have been useful but that is likely a technical limitation and not something that the author of the program can do anything about.

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Detect DLL Hijacks on Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2015/03/26/detect-dll-hijacks-on-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/03/26/detect-dll-hijacks-on-windows/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:20:14 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=111965 DLL hijacking is an attack that makes applications load malicious dynamic link libraries instead of the intended -- clean and legit -- library on a Windows system. Programs that don't specify paths to libraries are vulnerable to DLL hijacking as Windows uses a priority based search order in this case to load libraries. If attackers […]

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DLL hijacking is an attack that makes applications load malicious dynamic link libraries instead of the intended -- clean and legit -- library on a Windows system.

Programs that don't specify paths to libraries are vulnerable to DLL hijacking as Windows uses a priority based search order in this case to load libraries.

If attackers manage to place malicious libraries in a location with a high priority, then it will be loaded by the application.

Users cannot really do anything about this as it is not clear if paths are set properly or not in applications that they run on the system. It is up to programmers to make sure paths are set properly in the programs before they are released to the public.

As an end user, you can use a program like Dll Hijack Detect to scan the computer system for potential hijacks.

The program identifies all DLLs loaded by running processes on the system. It inspects all library locations where malicious files could be placed and checks in addition if a loaded library appears multiple times in the search order, determines which library is currently loaded and warns you if hijacks are possible.

dll hijack detector

Not every find indicates that something is wrong. The examples above for example are clean even though libraries have been found in multiple locations on the system.

The program supports a flag to ignore signed DLLs which reduces the output significantly.

DLL Hijack Detect is a command line tool.

  1. Download the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the program from the linked resource above.
  2. Extract it to a location on your system.
  3. Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe, right-click the result and select run as administrator to open an elevated command prompt.
  4. Navigate to the location that you have placed the program in.
  5. Run dll_hijack_detect_x64.exe or dll_hijack_detect_x32.exe without parameters to scan the system.
  6. If you want, add /unsigned to it to only flag DLLs if at least one of them is unsigned.

All that is left to do is go through the report one by one to determine whether DLLs are hijacked on your system.

Tip: Append > c:\output.txt to the command to save the information to the file output.txt on your system. It may be easier to go through a text file than the command line window.

Note: You may need to install the Visual C++ Redistributable Packages for Visual Studio 2013 to run the program.

Additional information about the program are available on the Sans website.

 

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DelFix deletes portable disinfection tools from your system automatically http://www.ghacks.net/2015/03/02/delfix-deletes-portable-removal-tools-from-your-system-automatically/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/03/02/delfix-deletes-portable-removal-tools-from-your-system-automatically/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 15:45:21 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=110861 What sounds like a virus on first read is a useful system tool created by the author of Adwcleaner. Like Adwcleaner, it is designed to remove leftovers on a system polluted by adware programs and files. Unlike it, it is designed to remove the tools used to remove the adware from the system and not […]

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What sounds like a virus on first read is a useful system tool created by the author of Adwcleaner.

Like Adwcleaner, it is designed to remove leftovers on a system polluted by adware programs and files.

Unlike it, it is designed to remove the tools used to remove the adware from the system and not the adware itself.

The main idea behind the tool is that portable removal tools get updated frequently and that it makes no sense to keep them on the system because of that.

The Dr. Web CureIt antivirus program that you can download from the company website falls into that category for example.

Since most don't support automatic updates, it is better to download the latest version and use those instead.

This is obviously not true for all and especially not if you run those tools from a dedicated location on the system or a Flash Drive.

Delfix itself is a portable program that displays the following prompt when you run it on your Windows system.

delfix

The removal of disinfection tools is selected by default but there are four additional options that you can enable on top of that:

  1. Activate UAC - This makes only sense if UAC was disabled in first place.
  2. Create Registry backup - This backs up the Registry prior to the removal. Since Delfix may delete information from the Registry, it is recommended to enable this or create a manual backup of the Windows Registry instead.
  3. Purge system restore - This deletes system restore snapshots. Can be useful if you want to eliminate adware traces in system restore snapshots.
  4. Reset system settings - What it says but no information on what is being changed.

Warning: If you run the removal of disinfection tools, you get no confirmation prompt listing the program's findings. This means that files, folders and Registry keys may get deleted in the process without you being able to do anything about that.

I ran the program on a test system and it removed quite a few folders, programs and keys including:

  • C:\AdwCleaner
  • C:\Users\Martin\DoctorWeb
  • Various files in c:\Windows including nircmd.exe, pve.exe, zip.exe and swreg.exe
  • Various Registry keys including those created by AdwCleaner and Swearware (Combofix).

DelFix can be a useful program but its usefulness is reduced by the fact that it gives you no control over the removal process. Options to check and uncheck items found during the scan would improve the program significantly.

Since that is not the case, I'd not use it on a production system as you don't know what will be deleted in the process. While it is likely that it uses a list of locations and file names only, lack of that list in the program or on the website means that this does not help either as a safe guard.

It is safer for now to delete these programs and files manually. As soon as the author implements control options, I'd increase its rating.

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Leawo’s Blu-Ray media player is free now http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/22/leawos-blu-ray-media-player-is-free-now/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/22/leawos-blu-ray-media-player-is-free-now/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 17:31:12 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=110520 I don't know anyone who has a computer with a Blu-Ray drive. Most of my friends and the contacts that I asked have a PC with a DVD writer or no optical drive at all but none one with a Blu-Ray drive. I'm not sure why that is but the most likely explanation is that […]

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I don't know anyone who has a computer with a Blu-Ray drive. Most of my friends and the contacts that I asked have a PC with a DVD writer or no optical drive at all but none one with a Blu-Ray drive.

I'm not sure why that is but the most likely explanation is that the format has not really replaced DVD yet on the computer.

You cannot buy games or programs that come on Blu-Ray discs, and while there are plenty of movies and TV shows available on the format, the overwhelming majority seems to play those on a Blu-Ray player connected to the television.

Leawo's Blu-Ray Player, previously available for $50, has been turned into a free program. It is unclear why the company made the decision to turn it into a free product but it cannot be lack of popularity if you take the 3.4 million download counter on the program's website into consideration.

While the program's name is Leawo's Blu-Ray Player, it is a full media player that is capable of playing CD and DVD disc formats and the majority of audio and video formats as well.

This becomes apparent right after installation when you first run the program as it displays a file associations screen to you that you can use to associate no, some or all supported formats with the player.

leawo blu-ray player

You can use the open file button displayed on start to load media or the right-click open file option that is displayed in the program's context menu to do so. File management and loading is somewhat of a problem with the player as it is virtually non existent.

While you can create playlists, there is no option to save them and the media player won't resume started video or audio files either.

The playback toolbar gives you control over playback while an options bar is only displayed underneath the title bar when you move the mouse cursor there.

There you can edit subtitle, video and audio options separately.That's a bit uncomfortable as you can only display one menu at a time and need to close it before the player interface becomes accessible again.

As far as DVD and Blu-Ray playback is concerned, it works for the most part. DVD playback is not an issue but you may run into issues playing specific Blu-Rays. The software does not support 3D Blu-Rays for example or Blu-Ray Live.

The second issue that I had with the player is that it would not play audio CDs.

On the good side of things, Blu-Ray loading times are fine for the most part and file format support is quite good as well.

Closing Words

If you are looking for a free Blu-Ray player that can play most Blu-Ray on your PC (apart from 3D) then you may want to give the player a try.

It needs to be improved on the file handling side of things as it is not really intuitive to use there. A file menu with options to load files, folders and streams with options to load recently played videos would be useful in this regard.

If you want more options and control, then players like VLC or SMPlayer are the better choice.

Update: Leawo establishes connections to the Internet which are not needed to operate the program. You may want to block its Internet access to avoid this from happening.

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Lazesoft Recovery Suite Free Review http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/22/lazesoft-recovery-suite-free-review/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/22/lazesoft-recovery-suite-free-review/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 08:18:54 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=110515 Things can go wrong when you are working on a computer. Programs may crash, you may delete important files accidentally, format an entire drive that contains data that you still need or may not be able to boot into Windows at all because of the last Windows Update that somehow broke everything. Depending on the […]

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Things can go wrong when you are working on a computer. Programs may crash, you may delete important files accidentally, format an entire drive that contains data that you still need or may not be able to boot into Windows at all because of the last Windows Update that somehow broke everything.

Depending on the issue at hand, you may be able to fix it with built-in tools or a recovery disc, or need third-party tools which often add powerful tools to your arsenal.

Lazesoft Recovery Suite is a collection of recovery related programs. The free version is somewhat limited but the limitations should not affect most users. In particular, it does not support Windows Server systems.

The program provides you with a variety of options that you may find useful:

  1. Recover Windows boot or crash errors.
  2. Recover data on disks.
  3. Backup or clone drives or partitions.
  4. Recover passwords

Lazesoft Recovery Suite Review

recovery suite

The first thing you may want to do after installation is to create a bootable recovery CD or USB drive as it provides access to the program's functionality even if you cannot boot into Windows anymore. This is a pretty straightforward process and all you need to do is follow the wizard to create bootable media.

Once done, you can use the tools it makes available straight away or boot from the recovery disc whenever the need arises. Some tools. like Windows Recovery, can only be run from the recovery environment.

Windows Recovery can repair Windows if the operating system does not start at all anymore or shows other signs of issues.

The program can recover the master boot record and partition information, repair boot.ini or BCD data, recover partitions that may have been deleted accidentally, and recover corrupt registry keys.

Data Recovery on the other hand can be run from within Windows or from within the recovery environment. The tool scans and displays deleted files for recovery, but can also recover lost, damaged or deleted partitions, and recover files from an accidentally formatted partition (provided that quick format was used).

The disk imaging and cloning tool leaves little to be desired. You can use to to create image backups of drives or clone disks and partitions. The difference between the two is that the latter will move all data of the selected partition or drive to another drive (for instance a new hard drive just connected).

disk tools

A selection of repair tools are provided here as well. You can recover lost partitions, backup and restore the MBR and partition table, rebuild or restore the MBR or Boot Sector, or fix and update disk signatures.

Here you can also create and attach VHDs, wipe disks or drives, or access advanced tools that allow you to map network drives, hide partitions or edit sectors.

Password Recovery is the fourth and final tool. Just like Windows Recovery, it can only be run in the recovery environment.

You can use it to reset Windows passwords, clear local passwords, find the Windows key and enable user accounts.

Closing Words

Lazesoft Recovery Suite is a massive program that provides you with access to several different recovery related programs.

While you may not need it right away, it may be a good idea and reassuring to have it in reach should disaster strike.

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Scan files for hidden executable contents http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/18/scan-files-for-hidden-executable-contents/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/18/scan-files-for-hidden-executable-contents/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 21:32:14 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=110447 Attackers have multiple options when it comes to disguising executable files on a system to trick users into running them. A common approach is to make use of Windows' option to hide known file types which may make it more difficult for users to identify the type of a file. There are other options, for […]

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Attackers have multiple options when it comes to disguising executable files on a system to trick users into running them.

A common approach is to make use of Windows' option to hide known file types which may make it more difficult for users to identify the type of a file.

There are other options, for instance using the Right to Left Override trick to reverse part of the file name to change the file extension without modifying most of the file name or rename executable file extensions to safe file extensions and run the files manually using system commands.

While antivirus software may spot some of these attempts and block them, it is likely that at least some attempts are not detected right away.

The free program MZReveal scans the root directory and all subdirectories it is placed in automatically for hidden executable file types.

mzreveal

The program is portable and you can run it right from Windows Explorer. It displays a prompt when you execute it asking you to say yes or no to bare filenames.

Once you have made the selection it will scan all files in all directories under that root folder. The scan is very fast, it took less than half a second to go through more than 3000 files for example.

Results are displayed in the prompt but it is closed seconds afterwards which means that you cannot go through them on the screen.

MZRevealer creates a log file in the root directory after the scan that you can load in any text editor to do so.

The log file lists all hidden executable files and their path on the system. Note that the author refers to PE (Portable Executable) files which means that the program won't find .exe files only but also .dll files and several other formats including screensavers or drivers.

The discovery of disguised executable files in the directory is not necessary a bad thing but it makes sense to go through each file, maybe scan it locally or on Virustotal, to make sure it is clean and not malicious in nature.

Verdict

The author announced that the program will receive updates in the near future with additional switches and options.

For now, it is a handy program to have even though you may not run it regularly on your system.

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Ping Viewer is a portable domain and network monitor for Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/12/ping-viewer-is-a-portable-domain-and-network-monitor-for-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/12/ping-viewer-is-a-portable-domain-and-network-monitor-for-windows/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:20:19 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=110205 If you want to make sure that network resources or domains on the Internet are accessible, you have plenty of options to do so. While you can run tests manually, it is not practicable as you would have to repeat the test regularly to make sure it does not go down. Network monitoring software and […]

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If you want to make sure that network resources or domains on the Internet are accessible, you have plenty of options to do so.

While you can run tests manually, it is not practicable as you would have to repeat the test regularly to make sure it does not go down.

Network monitoring software and online monitoring services like Deez.io can be used to automate the process.

Ping Viewer is a free portable program for Windows that has been designed for that and more. The program is a network monitor that you can use to monitor devices on a local area network but also domains and machines on the Internet.

You can run a wizard on start if you want which scans network IP addresses and adds any device and server it finds automatically, or add IP addresses and domain names manually instead.

ping viewer

While designed with local networks in mind, webmasters can use the program to test connections to servers and domain names regularly to make sure they are up and running.

To add a new site, right-click and select add target from the context menu.

The action opens an extensive configuration page. The only mandatory field on it is the IP address, domain name or machine name, everything else is optional.

The program supports several different target types with the default one being ICMP Ping. You can switch that to other options such as TCP connect or PingView server. The latter option allows you to collect information collected by the server on the local system.

Additional options include adding a TCP port for the connection, an IP address or MAC address, or to select a previously configured proxy server for the connection.

Once you have added at least one device you can start the monitoring via the actions menu. If you have selected to ping domain names for instance, those domain names will be ping every 30 seconds by default.

Ping Viewer displays information about the connection attempt in the log and highlights successful (green) and unsuccessful (red) connection attempts directly in the interface.

The program preferences allow you to modify various test parameters. You can modify the connection interval, define different timeout values, or configure messages and sound notifications.

The application keeps track of connection attempts and lists statistics about them in its interface. When you select an address or device, its statistics are displayed in the middle row of the interface.

There you find listed the total number of attempts and failures, the IP address, last contact and other information.

One of the interesting features of Ping Viewer is that you can run the program on remote servers. This can be useful if the computer you are working on is not on or online 24/7 while the server is. You could then pull data from the server regularly to get 24/7 connection stats and information.

A good starting point for the configuration of this option is the help file on the developer's website.

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Instant WordPress creates a local WordPress installation on Windows in seconds http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/06/instant-wordpress-creates-a-local-wordpress-installation-on-windows-in-seconds/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/06/instant-wordpress-creates-a-local-wordpress-installation-on-windows-in-seconds/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 08:18:05 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=109882 If you are a WordPress webmaster or administrator you know that there is always something to do on the backend of the site. WordPress updates are released regularly and the same is true for plugins and themes that you may have installed on the blog. On top of that, you may also work on the […]

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If you are a WordPress webmaster or administrator you know that there is always something to do on the backend of the site.

WordPress updates are released regularly and the same is true for plugins and themes that you may have installed on the blog.

On top of that, you may also work on the site's code, for instance its layout or what is being displayed to users when they open the site.

While you could work on the live site doing all that it is better if a local development environment is being used.

The main reason for that is that changes can be tested before they are applied to the live site. If a plugin or update renders the site unusable for instance, you'd have to restore the old version on the live site so that visitors can access it again while it won't harm anyone when you test it locally first.

Instant WordPress is a free portable program for Windows that you can use to deploy a local WordPress installation.

The program ships with everything that you need including the most recent version of WordPress and Apache, PHP and MySQL.

Since it is offered as a portable program, it is possible to move it around or copy it to a Flash drive that you can carry around with you.

instant wordpress

All you need to do is download the 60 Megabyte file from the official project website and click on it to extract its contents to the local system.

Once done run the executable file in the root directory and everything is set up for you. The program launches a dashboard that you can use to open the blog on your local PC, access MySQL Admin or WordPress Admin.

All you have to do then is to copy the files and database of an existing WordPress installation to your local system to run it there as well if you want it to test updates and changes.

local wordpress

It is obviously also possible to use the local environment to test new themes and plugins, or to run a local blog that is accessible on a computer network.

To install themes or plugins, you simply extract their contents to the designated local folders and enable them in the admin dashboard afterwards.

Instant WordPress has no dependencies which means that you can create multiple copies of the environment if you want, for instance to test multiple WordPress sites independently of each other on your system.

Closing Words

It does not get easier than this. Download, extract and run, and you have just set up a local WordPress environment that you can use for development, testing or running a local blog.

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Pocket Radio Player is a cross-platform minimalistic Internet radio program http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/05/pocket-radio-player-is-a-cross-platform-minimalistic-internet-radio-program/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/05/pocket-radio-player-is-a-cross-platform-minimalistic-internet-radio-program/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 16:59:21 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=109866 If you want to listen to Internet radio while you are using your computer, for instance while working, playing games or hanging out on social networking sites like Facebook, you have plenty of options to do just that. You can visit radio sites directly to play them, use browser extensions like Radio Player Live for […]

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If you want to listen to Internet radio while you are using your computer, for instance while working, playing games or hanging out on social networking sites like Facebook, you have plenty of options to do just that.

You can visit radio sites directly to play them, use browser extensions like Radio Player Live for Chrome, use audio and media players like AIMP that support radio streams, or dedicated apps that run on your desktop.

Pocket Radio Player falls into the dedicated program category. It is a cross-platform application that is available for Windows, Linux and Macintosh systems.

The program has been designed with minimalism in mind without sacrificing any core functionality. It supports Shoutcast and Icecast radio station indexing services and makes a list of stations available in its interface on start.

You can sort the list by genre, browse it or use the search to find a station of interest. A double-click on a station loads it directly in the interface switching the channel browsing controls to music playback controls in the process.

pocket radio playerradio stations

It is possible to favorite stations so that you can open them faster the next time. Playback controls are basic as well. You can change the volume, stop and pause playback, or flip between stations from the playback interface.

Two interesting options attached here are the record button which starts to record the current station and the song history button that highlights the last songs played on that station. This can be useful if you like a song and would like to buy it or find out more about its artist.

The interface of Pocket Radio Player is compact and does not get in the way much. Window position and last station can be saved so that they are re-opened when you start the program.

It is even possible to add new stations from the settings dialog as well.

The player sacrifices functionality for its compact nature. While it is possible to record the station that is playing currently for example, it is not offering the same functionality as dedicated Internet Radio recorders.

All songs are saved into a single stream for instance and there is no option to record multiple streams at at the same time.

Another feature that you may miss is that the player does not display the song that is currently playing in the channel browser.

Other programs, Shoutcast Explorer or StreamWriter, offer that feature for example. It is not the right program if you want to download a lot of songs from Internet radio and also not the right program if you are using a media player for Internet radio already.

The focus of Pocket Radio Player is different however. If you are looking for a compact program that can play radio stations on its own, then this is definitely on that you should give a try as it delivers that.

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Manage Windows Accounts with Quick User Manager http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/23/manage-windows-accounts-with-quick-user-manager/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/23/manage-windows-accounts-with-quick-user-manager/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:57:58 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=109333 If you want to manage user accounts on a local Windows system, you can use the control panel or the command line for that. Both options are not really ideal when you need to perform bulk operations like adding multiple new users, disabling accounts or changing user privileges. The free portable program Quick User Manager […]

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If you want to manage user accounts on a local Windows system, you can use the control panel or the command line for that.

Both options are not really ideal when you need to perform bulk operations like adding multiple new users, disabling accounts or changing user privileges.

The free portable program Quick User Manager for Windows improves the management of Windows user accounts as you can manage them all at once using the application.

The program displays all available accounts in the interface by default. This includes accounts created by users of the system but also built-in accounts like administrator or guest.

Each account is listed with its permissions and, if available, user icon which means that it is possible to distinguish accounts on first glance.

quick user manager

When you select one of the accounts, information are displayed on the right side of the user interface automatically.

This includes the following data points:

  • User account and display name.
  • User privilege.
  • Whether the account is disabled or locked.
  • Whether the account password can be changed, is required or expires.
  • If the password is expired.
  • Whether auto-logon is enabled for the user account (only one user account can be set to log on automatically).
  • Whether it is displayed on the welcome screen as an option during log on.

Changes are made with clicks in check boxes on the screen. For user generated accounts, it is furthermore possible to change the display name or user privilege (between standard user, administrator and guest).

The account password and picture can be changed as well with clicks on buttons in the interface.  If you select to change the user picture, an overlay is displayed that you can use to pick another profile photo by browsing the local system and setting the new picture to center, crop or stretch.

change user picture windows

Last but not least, Quick User Manager allows you to create new accounts on the system or delete existing accounts.

Note that the latter is limited to select accounts. It is for instance not possible to delete the built-in guest or administrator account.

Closing Words

Quick User Manager does not add new functionality to Windows but it provides quick access to user management features which can be quite useful at times.

The program is handy when you need to modify multiple existing accounts or create several new accounts on a Windows system as it can speed up the process quite a bit then.

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Analyze suspicious Windows executable files with PeStudio http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/19/analyze-suspicious-windows-executable-files-with-pestudio/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/19/analyze-suspicious-windows-executable-files-with-pestudio/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 21:01:17 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=109222 If you install and run new software regularly on your Windows system, you may have come upon programs that you have a bad feeling about. Maybe because you have downloaded them from a site you cannot trust, maybe because it is a new app that has not been reviewed anywhere yet, or maybe because of […]

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If you install and run new software regularly on your Windows system, you may have come upon programs that you have a bad feeling about.

Maybe because you have downloaded them from a site you cannot trust, maybe because it is a new app that has not been reviewed anywhere yet, or maybe because of what it is supposed to do.

You may scan the executable file locally then and on sites like VirusTotal to find out if it contains malicious code.

Sometimes, you get two, three or four hits on VirusTotal while the remaining antivirus engine report that the file is clean.

Unless major engines are reporting the hits, it is usually false positives but would you risk installing malware based on that?

You could run the program in a sandbox so that it won't affect the underlying system no matter what. Another option is to analyze it with the help of the free PeStudio program.

pestudio analysis

PeStudio is a free portable program for Windows that you can use to analyze executable files in various ways. It was designed to uncover suspicious patterns, indicators and anomalies that provide you with additional insight about the program's main purpose and whether it is malicious or not.

All you need to do is drag an executable file on the program window after you have started it up to start the analysis.

One of the first things PeStudio does is query VirusTotal to report hits. That's however just one of the things it does and you will notice that it lists more than two dozen checks it performs.

Each check is color coded so that you know on first glance what you should check initially. Green indicates no issues, orange something that you should look into and red the most pressing findings that you should investigate first.

A click on strings may for instance reveal commands, for instance Registry manipulation, used by the program or module names that may reveal information about its function.

Other information that it provides include imported libraries and symbols, the file and DOS header, as well as certificate and resource information.

The indicators listing may be of importance as it lists important information discovered during the scan at the very top. There you may find information about the program's capabilities (e.g. accesses libraries at runtime, creates or modifies files) which can be very useful in your analysis.

It needs to be noted at this point that PeStudio finds indicators and that red or orange color codes do not have to mean that something fishy is going on.

PeStudio comes as a graphical user interface but also as a command line version that you can run right from it.

Verdict

PeStudio is a useful helper program for Windows users who want to analyze executable files before they run them on their system. The integration of VirusTotal is excellent and the remaining options that it provides can give you valuable clues whether a program may potentially be malicious in nature. (via Betanews)

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Turn files into pdf documents automatically with HotFolder http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/16/turn-files-into-pdf-documents-automatically-with-hotfolder/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/16/turn-files-into-pdf-documents-automatically-with-hotfolder/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:32:14 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=109099 So-called pdf printers can be quite useful. These programs add a virtual printer to the operating system that you can send files to so that they are converted to pdf in the process. While there are other means to achieve the same, most of them are time consuming and not as easy to work with. […]

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So-called pdf printers can be quite useful. These programs add a virtual printer to the operating system that you can send files to so that they are converted to pdf in the process.

While there are other means to achieve the same, most of them are time consuming and not as easy to work with.

One of the programs that you can use for that is PDF Creator. The free version is quite powerful as it supports different profiles and a variety of settings to customize the conversion process.

The company behind PDF Creator has released HotFolder recently which adds even more automation to the process.

HotFolder monitors one or multiple folders on the system it is running on to initiate a conversion process right away.

Ideally, it is doing so automated in the background with you having to do anything. If you want more control on the other hand, you get that as well.

hotfolder

Please note that HotFolder relies on PDF Creator which you need to install on the system first before installing HotFolder on it.

The HotFolder settings define the directories that you want to monitor on the system. For each directory that you add, you can add a destination folder for the converted source files, an optional folder for files that were not converted, and one PDF Creator printer that is available.

hotfolder pdf settings

Once you have added at least one folder that you want monitored, you hit start in the main interface to observe all selected folders from that moment on.

Files that are moved into the folder are converted automatically to pdf provided that this is possible. It should be clear that you cannot turn an executable file into a pdf document but image file types and many document types are supported by the application.

Depending on how you have configured the process, you may need to click a couple of times to create the pdf document. It is possible to enable auto-saving and conversion options in PDF Creator to skip those steps if you prefer it this way.

As far as PDF Creator is concerned, there is a lot that you can configure. Besides title and author templates for the PDF, you may also add stamps, define output file name templates and configure actions that you want to run after the creation of the document.

Available actions are versatile and include opening it, adding a cover, printing it, running a script or uploading it to a FTP server.

pdf-creator

Options to switch to other file formats such as JPG, PNG or PDF/A PDF/X are supported as well. PDF documents support a variety of additional features that you can enable or change under profile settings as well.

This includes security features such as encryption or what users are allowed to do, digital signature support, and compression and quality settings.

Verdict

HotFolder automates the pdf creation process further. While it is necessary to install two programs for that, it may save you quite some time in the long run if you convert files to pdf regularly.

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BlueLife Hosts Editor for Windows review http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/12/bluelife-hosts-editor-for-windows-review/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/12/bluelife-hosts-editor-for-windows-review/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 15:50:07 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108987 The Windows Hosts file allows you to redirect hostnames. That sounds awfully technical but think of it as a beats-everything-else solution to set hostname targets. Examples? You can redirect any domain name on the Internet to another IP address. This is helpful when you move your website to a new server and want to check […]

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The Windows Hosts file allows you to redirect hostnames. That sounds awfully technical but think of it as a beats-everything-else solution to set hostname targets.

Examples? You can redirect any domain name on the Internet to another IP address. This is helpful when you move your website to a new server and want to check everything out before DNS propagates around the world.

The hosts file is also used by many to block advertising, tracking and malicious servers so that connections to those servers are blocked. This is done by setting their target to a local address.

If you want to find out more, access this Windows Hosts File guide.

BlueLife Hosts Editor is a free portable program to manage hosts file entries in Windows. The application loads the active hosts file on start and displays all of its entries in its interface.

bluelife hosts editor

There you find listed domain names and their associated IP address. You can enable or disabling mappings with a click on the enabled box, and enable or disable all by selecting all first (using Ctrl-a for instance) and using the right-click menu afterwards to perform the action.

New entries can be added easily to the program. Just enter a hostname in the first field and an IP address in the second to map it to that location.

A click on the text icon at the rightmost location of the toolbar switches to a text editor style that you can use to quickly add or remove multiple entries.

If you have used other hosts software before you are probably wondering whether it is possible to load lists into the program. While it supports the import of lists, it does not ship with a selection of lists included.

You can check out this collection of hosts sources on GitHub to download lists. Note that you may need to import a list regularly to add updates of it to your hosts file as this is not an automated process.

One interesting option that Hosts Editor supports is the option to look up IP addresses of hostnames that you have added to the application.

Just right-click on an entry to do so. The IP address replaces the IP address value of it automatically.

The program includes several tools that you may find useful as well. You can use it to flush the DNS cache, start, stop or disable the DNS Client service, or open the hosts folder on the local drive.

The program creates a backup of the original hosts file by default and ships with backup options to create and restore backups manually.

Verdict

Hosts Editor is a well designed program that improves hosts file management on Windows. An option to subscribe to hosts lists would improve it further.

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List all recently run programs on a Windows PC http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/12/list-all-recently-run-programs-on-a-windows-pc/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/12/list-all-recently-run-programs-on-a-windows-pc/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 12:48:29 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108954 Do you know which programs ran in the past on your Windows PC? It is likely that you know at least some of them, the programs that you have started manually for example. Depending on how the computer is used, it may be just a tiny fraction of executable files that are run on the […]

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Do you know which programs ran in the past on your Windows PC? It is likely that you know at least some of them, the programs that you have started manually for example.

Depending on how the computer is used, it may be just a tiny fraction of executable files that are run on the system.

Files may be executed automatically by the operating system for example, or by other users who have access to the system (and same user account).

If you want to display a list of recently run programs on the PC, you can do so in two different ways:

  1. Check the Windows Registry and Prefetch data manually.
  2. Run ExecutedProgramsList, a free program that does all the heavy lifting for you.

Registry

run programs

Several Registry Keys store information about programs that have been executed previously on the system:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\MuiCache
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ShellNoRoam\MUICache
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Compatibility Assistant\Persisted
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Compatibility Assistant\Store

To open them tap on the Windows-key, type regedit and hit enter. This should open the Windows Registry editor. You may receive a UAC prompt which you need to accept.

Use the left sidebar to navigate to the folders listed above. There you find lists of programs that have been executed on the PC.

ExecutedProgramsList

executed programs

ExecutedProgramsList is a portable program for Windows. All you need to do is download it to your local system, extract it and run it afterwards.

It will pull data from all data sources and display them sorted in its interface after a brief moment.

Programs are sorted by path and name by default which you can change with a click on a table header. It is for instance possible to sort the listing by last execution date, by creation date, or by size.

You can use the search to find programs of interest, or browse the selection manually instead. You will notice that the list contains a mixture of programs that you have started manually and programs that were started automatically by the operating system.

Some programs are listed with limited information. You may notice that some are listed only with their path and name, while others may reveal additional information but not all of them.

Since this is a Nirsoft program, you can export the data to txt, csv or xml files, or generate a HTML report instead listing the selected information or all of them.

Tip: Programs like CCleaner or PrivaZer don't remove all information by default. You can add the locations manually to those programs or delete the data in the Registry directly in the Registry Editor.

Closing Words

ExecutedProgramsList is another useful Nirsoft application that may come in handy at times. Since it is portable and tiny, it is perfect tool for a collection of system and maintenance tools.

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Game Downloader 4.0 released http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/09/game-downloader-4-0-released/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/09/game-downloader-4-0-released/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 14:58:31 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108874 Game Downloader is a free program for the Windows operating system that you can use to discover, browse and download more than 350 different PC games in various categories. PC gamers have many choices when it comes to playing games on their computer. From platforms like Steam, Gog or Origin over free to play games […]

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Game Downloader is a free program for the Windows operating system that you can use to discover, browse and download more than 350 different PC games in various categories.

PC gamers have many choices when it comes to playing games on their computer. From platforms like Steam, Gog or Origin over free to play games and freeware games to game emulation.

If you like to play free PC games, you have probably found a couple of resources on the Internet to download those games.

One of the better options is the free Game Downloader application which provides you with a list of 368 games (currently) that you can explore and download to your local system.

All you need to do is download the program from Sourceforge and run it after it has been downloaded to the local system.

Note: the program requires the Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0.

game downloader

It displays games in categories that you can switch between with a click on the menu at the top left. Instead of browsing games this way, you can use the built-in search instead. There is unfortunately no option to display all games at once.

Once you have selected a category all of its games are displayed in list form with one game being selected by default.

You can filter games using single-player, multi-player, online play and requires account filters. If you only want multiplayer games for example, you can uncheck all other options to only display games matching it.

Each game is listed with a large screenshot and a short description that reveals what it is about. Links lead to the developer's website and YouTube which can be useful to learn more about the game or download it in case the built-in download link is not working properly.

The size of each game is listed there as well so that you know how large it is before you hit the download button.

download game

You can download as many games as you like and will notice that they get queued automatically so that only one game is downloaded at a time.

Before you do so, you may want to check the settings to make sure the download directory is correct. Game Downloader saves all games to the same directory it is in.

In addition to modifying the path, you can also change what you want done after downloads complete. The default option is to do nothing which you can change to either open the download file or the download folder.

Game Dowloader has come a long way since its first release in 2011 and our second review back in 2012 when it shipped with additional features such as game screen shots.

Version 4 of the program offers a new interface and additional games that improve the program further.

Another interesting feature is the news module that you can use to check out what is new. This includes program updates but also updates to the database and individual games. You can use it for instance to check if one of the games that you have installed has been updated recently to download and run the updated version.

All in all, it is a great program to discover and download free PC games.

Need some suggestions?

Here is a short list of excellent games listed by the program:

  • 0 A.D.
  • Alien Arena
  • Battle for Wesnoth
  • Demon Legacy
  • Poker TH
  • Scrabble 3D
  • Super Tux Cart
  • TripleA
  • Ultrastar Deluxe

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Manage your (physical) music collection http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/07/manage-your-physical-music-collection/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/07/manage-your-physical-music-collection/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 13:24:06 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108751 It is relatively easy to manage a digital music collection. Programs like MediaMonkey Gold or iTunes can import all music files right away with options to correct any importing issues and add information to individual tracks or albums. But when you look for a program that you can use to manage your physical music collection, […]

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It is relatively easy to manage a digital music collection. Programs like MediaMonkey Gold or iTunes can import all music files right away with options to correct any importing issues and add information to individual tracks or albums.

But when you look for a program that you can use to manage your physical music collection, cassette tapes, records or audio CDs, then you may not find as many suitable options.

Music Collection is a portable Windows program that offers one option. It has been designed specifically for physical collections which you will notice right after start as you cannot import a digital collection into the program at all.

The program ships with sample albums which you can delete with a right-click and the selection of the removal option from the context menu.

The other option that you have is to create a new collection using the file menu at the top.

music collection

New albums can be added in several ways:

  1. Add albums manually. This gives you full control over the process.
  2. Use the Internet (Amazon, Discogs or MusicBrainz) to find the album and fill out most of the information automatically.
  3. Add digital tracks and create an album using them.
  4. Add album by reading data from a CD.

The only other option that you have is to import album information from a text file or csv file. If you have a list of all your music albums already, this is without doubt the fastest option to get started.

The information that you can add to an album are quite extensive. They are divided into five tabs:

  • Album data - Information about the media format, album title, group, genre, label, barcode and more than a dozen other data points.
  • Medium data - Additional information about the medium including musicians, composer, performer, group, state, location and notes.
  • Tracks - All the tracks of the album.
  • Lyrics - Lyrics for all tracks.
  • Album cover - Self explanatory.

If you import from the Internet, many of the information get populated automatically. You can correct any of those or add information manually.

album properties

Once you have added part of or all of your music collection, you can use the program for other tasks. Among the options that it offers are a search to find albums or other information quickly, a loan management module to keep track of loaned albums and options to generate reports and view statistics.

This includes information about the total price of the collection, provided that you have added pricing information to each album.

You can export the entire collection as a HTML file, or export select albums as text, csv, excel or HMTL files using parameters that you specify during the process.

Verdict

Music Collection is a powerful program to manage a physical music collection. It is somewhat of a pain to create though, an a companion app that scans barcodes for example would come in really handy to speed up the process.

What I don't like as well is that there is no way to link digital files directly. This means that you cannot play music that is on your computer even if you have added the album to your collection.

All in all though it is an exellent program that gets regular updates that improve its functionality further.

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Copy certain files by type from any location using File Fisher http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/05/copy-certain-files-by-type-from-any-location-using-file-fisher/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/05/copy-certain-files-by-type-from-any-location-using-file-fisher/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 20:56:00 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108689 If you ever had to move specific files from one location to another you know how difficult of an operation this can be. Say someone connected an USB Flash Drive to your computer and you want to copy all images, video files or documents to it. While you could copy those files manually by iterating […]

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If you ever had to move specific files from one location to another you know how difficult of an operation this can be.

Say someone connected an USB Flash Drive to your computer and you want to copy all images, video files or documents to it.

While you could copy those files manually by iterating through all folders on the flash drive, you'd spend some time doing so.

File Fisher is an easy to use program that automates part of the process for you.

Note: The program requires a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) that needs to be available on the computer. If you don't have Java installed, Java Portable may be an option.

When you run File Fisher it displays the following interface to you.

file fisher

You need to select the source directory, the root folder containing the files, and the destination folder first.

Once done, you can either add file types manually, use extension groups listed in the interface, or select individual extensions from the right side of the interface.

Extension groups add multiple extensions of the same file type to the file types list. If you select pictures for example, several picture formats including jpg and png are added automatically.

You can mix as many file types as you like, and even reverse the field so that all files but the ones with the selected file extensions are copied during the process.

File extensions that you find on the right can be added or removed. To do so select edit from the menu at the top and then either the add or remove extensions options.

Another option that you find there is to add or remove file types to the six groups that the program supports. This allows you to add new file types to a group if they are missing, or remove them if they are not required.

file transfer status

The program scans sub folders automatically by default. You can add more options including one to preserve the original file structure and how to handle file duplicates. The move/copy button next to start toggles the file operation.

The last option provided is to create a zip file of the files that the program will pick up when it processes the source folder.

A click on start runs the selected operation. File Fisher displays a progress bar that highlights the progress in percentage.

You get the option to open the destination directory once the operation completes.

Closing Words

File Fisher can come in handy at times. Move all mp3 files out of a download directory, copy all video files from a USB drive to the video archive on a computer, or all documents from the My Documents location to a backup drive.

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Move files from different folders into one with Folder Merge for Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/03/move-files-from-different-folders-into-one-with-folder-merge-for-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/01/03/move-files-from-different-folders-into-one-with-folder-merge-for-windows/#comments Sat, 03 Jan 2015 15:38:05 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108560 Folder Merger is a free portable application for the Windows operating system that you can use to merge files that reside in different folders into a single destination folder Merging simple folders on Windows is not that much of a problem. Simply select all files of one folder and copy the contents to the other […]

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Folder Merger is a free portable application for the Windows operating system that you can use to merge files that reside in different folders into a single destination folder

Merging simple folders on Windows is not that much of a problem. Simply select all files of one folder and copy the contents to the other folder. Finish up by deleting the first folder.

It gets complicated and time consuming if you need to merge many folders into one, or want to move files from subfolders into the root folder.

While you can still do that manually, you will spend a considerable amount of time on it.

Folder Merger is a free portable program that assists you in that. First thing that you do after it has loaded is to add one or multiple root folders to the root folder list.

Note: Virustotal reports 3 hits. Those are -- very likely -- false positives.

Subfolders get added automatically during the process and you can add as many unrelated folders as you like as well. You can select all or some of the folders and click on the add selected folders button to add them to the queue.

merge folders

Once that is done, you need to select the destination folder all selected files and subfolders will be moved to.

That's all there is to the process and when you hit the merge now button the program will run the copy operation on its own using a command line window that is displayed only during the operation.

Note that subfolders are the only ones copied to the destination folder while source root folders are not. The files in those root folders are all copied to the root of the destination folder.

You can customize the process before you do so. One option that you have is to filter by file name or extension.

If you only want to move executable files for example, you could do so by adding .exe to the file extension field and clicking on apply filters.

This displays all excutable files in all selected folders. If you hit merge now, only those exe files are moved to the destination folder.

This on its own can be pretty useful to sort certain file extensions or files based on their name into folders.

Note that the merging won't affect the source files in any way. There is no option to automatically delete the source files either which means that you need to do so manually after the operation completes.

Two additional options are provided. The first, to rename duplicate files, is selected by default. If you don't select it, files may be overwritten during the operation.

The second option allows you to merge all files into the root folder of the destination folder regardless of their original folder location.

Closing Words

Folder Merger is a useful application for Windows. It can be used to merge as many folders as you like, or to move specific files stored in different folders based on names or extensions to a single root folder.

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PortExpert monitors TCP and UDP communications on Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/31/portexpert-monitors-tcp-and-udp-communications-on-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/31/portexpert-monitors-tcp-and-udp-communications-on-windows/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 16:05:10 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108456 One of the things that I do regularly is to check open connections on a PC I'm working with to make sure that there are no leaks or ports open that I don't require. While it is possible to use command line tools like ipconfig for some of this, I prefer to use programs like […]

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One of the things that I do regularly is to check open connections on a PC I'm working with to make sure that there are no leaks or ports open that I don't require.

While it is possible to use command line tools like ipconfig for some of this, I prefer to use programs like CurrPorts instead as they make life a lot easier by formatting the output and adding features to the list that you can make use of to investigate potential issues further.

PortExpert is a similar program that has just been released. It is available as a portable version and installer on the developers website.

Note: The regular installer contains sponsored contents. You can avoid those by declining offers when they come up or by installing versions without those offers.

The program displays all applications on start that are currently connected to remote addresses. You find web browsers here for example but also other programs such as Steam, email programs or messengers that connect to remote locations.

portexpert

A click on a process displays additional details about it in the interface. Here you see the local address and port for example as well.

Buttons are provided to run a whois check on the remote address, to search for it on the web, to open the address in the default web browser, or to open the process folder.

Whois sends the data to the Domaintools service which displays Whois data that include the owner of the IP address and contact information. This is usually enough to determine whether a connection is legitimate or not.

The freeze time button in the interface stops the refreshing of the connections which can be useful to keep connections displayed that you want to investigate further.

PortExpert supports two additional features of note. The first adds all local connections to the display which means connections in the local area network the computer is connected to.

This can be useful as well, especially if your computer is not the only one connected to the network.

The third and final option is to show all system processes which may display local or remote connections as well.

Closing Words

PortExpert is a handy program for Windows users who want to check all local or remote connections on a computer running the operating system.

An option to export the information or at least log it is not available yet but would be useful. Another thing that may be of interest to some users is notifications when new applications connect to the Internet for the first time.

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Retrieve serial numbers, product codes and login information on Windows with recALL http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/26/retrieve-serial-numbers-product-codes-and-login-information-on-windows-with-recall/ http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/26/retrieve-serial-numbers-product-codes-and-login-information-on-windows-with-recall/#comments Fri, 26 Dec 2014 09:02:27 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108335 Whenever you are switching from one PC to another, or upgrading your current one by installing a new operating system, you may want to take certain applications, programs and information with you. If you paid for a program for example, you may want to keep on using it on the new PC. The same is […]

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Whenever you are switching from one PC to another, or upgrading your current one by installing a new operating system, you may want to take certain applications, programs and information with you.

If you paid for a program for example, you may want to keep on using it on the new PC.

The same is true when you about to re-install a software on the system or upgraded to a new version which did not carry over information stored by the old version.

One problem that can arise here is that you cannot look up the product key anymore. Maybe you have lost the email or cannot find it anymore.

The same is true for information. If you have configured the excellent WinSCP program to save username and password, you may want to carry those over as well to the new system.

recALL

The free program recALL can do that for you. It works similar to other programs of its kind but seems more extensive than programs that I came across until now.

recall

The main reason for that is its impressive support of programs. You can check out the supported list of applications on the (Polish) homepage of the application. According to it, more than 3000 programs are supported by recALL at the time of writing.

The program can retrieve serial codes from numerous software programs including Fast Picture Viewer, Newsbin or Microsoft products such as Office.

In addition to that, it can retrieve login information from many communication programs including web browsers, ftp clients, messenger applications or database programs.

When you first start the program you get the option to run an automatic scan of the system, run a manual scan by selecting a file, or use the server emulation mode which recovers email program and ftp passwords (which the automatic scan may also be able to do).

The automatic scan searches the whole system for serial numbers and accounts to display all that it finds in the program interface.

You can use Ctrl-c to copy the information of the highlighted row or rows to the clipboard. The other option that you have is to double-click on a row to display the information in text fields that you can copy individually.

The information found during the scan can be exported after it completes. Formats supported include plain text and comma separated files, but also KeePass XML 1.x format files which can be useful to users of the password manager.

You can download a portable version of the program from the developer website.

Closing Words

recAll is a great program that can retrieve product keys and login information stored by Windows or programs running on the operating system.

It supports more than 2500 programs in total and is useful not only when you plan to move to a new PC or install a new operating system on the existing one, but also when you reinstall software and need that serial number again to register it or need the login information used by the application.

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DriveTheLife: update, backup and restore Windows drivers http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/23/drivethelife-update-backup-and-restore-windows-drivers/ http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/23/drivethelife-update-backup-and-restore-windows-drivers/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 14:05:19 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108313 Most of the devices and hardware that you connect to a PC running a recent version of Windows work out of the box without any configuring or driver installations. While that is certainly not the case for all of them, things have gotten a lot better in this regard in the past ten years. It […]

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Most of the devices and hardware that you connect to a PC running a recent version of Windows work out of the box without any configuring or driver installations.

While that is certainly not the case for all of them, things have gotten a lot better in this regard in the past ten years.

It may still make sense to install driver updates regularly or even install drivers provided by the manufacturer instead of making use of the generic drivers that Windows ships with.

Some driver updates may add functionality to the device while others may improve stability or performance instead.

This is for instance often the case with video card drivers. While usually only important to gamers who run games on Windows, it can at times also make sense for non-gamers to keep these drivers up to date.

DriveTheLife is a free program for Windows that you can use to find and installer driver updates and backup or restore drivers.

It works similar to other programs of its kind but recommends to back up the current drivers prior to anything else when you first start it up.

driver backup

This ensures that initial drivers can be restored after updates.

Once that is out of the way you can switch to local in the sidebar to get a list of devices that don't run the latest drivers.

A click on a device on this page lists the installed driver version and the new one, the driver type that was discovered by DriveTheLife, the device name, and an update button.

Each device driver can be updated manually this way or all in one go if you prefer it that way.

windows driver update

New drivers are downloaded in the program interface right away which is comfortable and convenient.

If you click on the manual installation button installation prompts are displayed to you which allow you to select what gets installed and what does not if the driver supports it.

If you take Nvidia drivers for example: you may not require all of the programs the driver ships with. If you don't have a 3D display for example it makes no sense to install the 3d components on the system.

The evaluate option on the same page checks important devices and their compatibility with the current operating system.

The manage page finally lists backup, restoration and uninstallation options. You can use it to restore driver backups, create additional backups of drivers, or remove drivers completely from the system.

Closing Words

There is certainly no shortage of programs that assist you in updating device drivers on Windows. From SlimDrivers and Dumo to Driver Booster and DriverIdentifier.

It comes down to personal choice and experience more than anything else. DriveTheLife offers a clean interface and while it is still necessary to verify the driver updates found before you hit the install button, it makes it easy to undo any errors done in this regard provided that Windows is still booting up after the operation.

Users who like to use a program for the task need to evaluate several anyway and nothing speaks against adding DriveTheLife to that list of programs.

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Monitor network traffic of Windows processes with Socket Sniff http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/22/monitor-network-traffic-of-windows-processes-with-socket-sniff/ http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/22/monitor-network-traffic-of-windows-processes-with-socket-sniff/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:09:15 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108301 SocketSniff is a free portable program for Windows that enables you to watch WinSock activity of a selected process in the Windows operating system. It can sometimes be useful to find out if a process connects to a computer network or the Internet, and if it does, what it uploads to the Internet or downloads […]

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SocketSniff is a free portable program for Windows that enables you to watch WinSock activity of a selected process in the Windows operating system.

It can sometimes be useful to find out if a process connects to a computer network or the Internet, and if it does, what it uploads to the Internet or downloads from it.

While all of that may not always be possible to tell, for instance when encryption is being used, there are still information that can be gathered during the process.

SocketSniff is a program by NirSoft which provides you with options to select a running process in Windows to monitor its WinSocket activity.

When you start the application for the first time after download and extraction on the local system, you are asked to pick a process from the list of available processes.

The selected process will be monitored automatically from that moment on until you click on the stop button in the program interface or exit the application.

sockertsniff

WinSocket activity is listed in rows in the program interface. Each row lists a variety of information including the local and remote address used, how much data is sent and received, and whether the socket is still open or closed.

Once you select a row, information about it are displayed in the lower half of the interface. If you select firefox.exe for example, you may see header information listed there but also hex data that may or may not reveal additional information about the activity.

The information recorded by SocketSniff grows quickly especially if the monitored process opens and closes lots of sockets. The Socket Types filter can be used to display only TCP or UDP types which can reduce the data significantly. The default setting is to record and display both socket types.

A search is provided that helps you find information of interest. You can use it to find IP addresses or bits of information in the recorded data.

You can export some or all of the recorded data to various data formats including text, csv, xml or HTML.

SocketSniff can be a useful program under certain conditions. Developers can use it to monitor socket creation of their applications while end users may use it to monitor the network activity of a specific process.

Now Read: How To Verify That A Browser Extension Is Not Phoning Home

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Prevent programs from losing focus automatically in Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/22/prevent-programs-from-losing-focus-automatically-in-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/22/prevent-programs-from-losing-focus-automatically-in-windows/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:36:34 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108298 Only one program window has the focus in the Windows operating system at any given time. This means that you cannot interact with other programs unless you activate them first or use third-party software that enables you to interact with them even if they are not focused (Wizscroll is one program that offers that feature). […]

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Only one program window has the focus in the Windows operating system at any given time. This means that you cannot interact with other programs unless you activate them first or use third-party software that enables you to interact with them even if they are not focused (Wizscroll is one program that offers that feature).

While it was possible to modify the behavior in Windows XP and earlier systems, the very same tweaks don't work on newer versions anymore.

There are situations where focus is lost automatically. This can happen if you run an installer on the system, if you have started a program and switched to another for the time being or when actions in one program window cause other programs to open up or be displayed in the foreground.

While this may be wanted at times, it can sometimes be disturbing. Maybe you are writing an email message or a new blog post when focus is lost. The effect is that you will type a couple of characters that are not sent to the email program or browser but to the new program that stole the focus.

If that happens often enough, it can be highly annoying.

The free program Stop Changing Focus if Mouse not move (yes, that is the name) sits in the background after you have started it to prevent the stealing of focus on Windows.

stop focus stealing programs

It does so by analyzing mouse movement on the system. If a program is put into focus using the mouse, focus is granted so that you can switch between program windows just like before.

If focus is requested without mouse movement, then focus is not granted which in turn means that the program window that has focus is not changed automatically anymore.

The author gives the example of reading emails while development tools are loading up in the background. These tools would be focused automatically by default which would prevent scrolling in the email program. With the program installed, this won't happen anymore.

The feature can be tested by trying to switch between windows using Alt-Tab while the program is running in the background. Doing that should not lead to a change of focus because it is prevented by the application.

Please note that the program exits automatically after 40 seconds. This means that you can only use it for specific situations, for instance on system start to prevent the stealing of focus when a bunch of applications start up.

An option to keep the program running would certainly be handy for some users. For now, it is a bit of a hassle to use once the system has started up if you want to prevent programs from stealing the focus.

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Hide, lock or protect folders and files in Windows using Secure Folders http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/16/hide-lock-or-protect-folders-and-files-in-windows-using-secure-folders/ http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/16/hide-lock-or-protect-folders-and-files-in-windows-using-secure-folders/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:53:36 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=108139 Secure Folders is a free program for Windows that is available as a portable version and installer. It can be used to hide or lock folders, set them to read-only or block the execution of files. If you share your computer at times, for instance in your family or when friends or colleagues ask you […]

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Secure Folders is a free program for Windows that is available as a portable version and installer. It can be used to hide or lock folders, set them to read-only or block the execution of files.

If you share your computer at times, for instance in your family or when friends or colleagues ask you whether they can access it, then you may want an option to protect certain files or folders from accidental exposure.

Maybe you don't want someone else to spot your Justin Bieber wallpaper collection, financial documents or video files that you have downloaded from the Internet. Whatever it is, Windows does not really provide options to protect data from others if the same account is being used.

Note: it is best obviously to use different accounts, for instance a guest account for occasional users and accounts for colleagues or family members who work with the PC regularly.

Encryption is a solution but only if you keep the data encrypted while the computer is being used. It won't help you if the encrypted drive that you store all your secrets on is mounted at the time someone else accesses your PC.

secure folders

Secure Folders is a free program for windows that offers basic protection. It is compatible with all supported versions of the operating system and supports four core modes of operation:

  1. Hide folders - This hides the selected folder and all of its files in Windows Explorer, other file managers and on the system in general.
  2. Lock folders - The folder is still visible but it cannot be accessed while the protection is active.
  3. Read-only - The folder and the files it contains can be accessed but they cannot be changed, modified or deleted. It is furthermore not possible to create or copy files into the folder.
  4. No execution - Prevents the execution of files in the folder.

Simply drag and drop files or folders into the interface or use the add button to open a file browser to use it. The program displays a dialog when you do that you use to select the protection type you want to assign to the file or folders.

Wildcards are supported by the program as well which provide interesting functionality. You can change the file or folder path using the keyboard to add wildcards to protect certain file types or files with a certain name in the folder, or even system wide.

This enables you to hide all jpg images on the system for example, block the execution of bat files, or lock document file types.

A whitelist is provided as well to allow the execution of selected applications regardless of the protection settings.

You can password protect the Secure Folders interface, assign keyboard shortcuts for fast access, and enable or disable protection with a simple switch in the interface or shortcut.

In addition to all that, it can also be run from the command line.

Closing Words

While I cannot say if the protection will withstand experienced users it is certainly sufficient to keep less tech-savvy users from doing so.

It is interesting to note that it is not enough to terminate the process of the application in Windows to disable the protection.

So, if you are looking for a simple to use program that is offering quite an interesting assortment of protection options, then you may want to give this one a try to see if it fits the bill for you.

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Convert videos in bulk with THandBrake for Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/13/convert-videos-in-bulk-with-thandbrake-for-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2014/12/13/convert-videos-in-bulk-with-thandbrake-for-windows/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:41:49 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=107936 You have many options to convert video files to different formats; from one-click options over command line tools to advanced tools that give you full control over every bit of the conversion process. THandBrake is a frontend for the popular HandBrake video transcoder which means that you can use profiles created in the latter. After […]

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You have many options to convert video files to different formats; from one-click options over command line tools to advanced tools that give you full control over every bit of the conversion process.

THandBrake is a frontend for the popular HandBrake video transcoder which means that you can use profiles created in the latter.

After you have installed THandBrake on your system you are presented with a clean UI. Video files can be dragged and dropped in the interface or loaded using the add button instead. There is also a folder button that you can use to add all supported video files of the folder to the video conversion queue.

Each video file is displayed with its name, type and duration by default in the queue with additional information being displayed when you select it. This includes information about audio and subtitle tracks.

thandbrake batch gui handbrake

The program is profile driven. It ships with conversion profiles for mobile devices such as Apple's iPhone or iPad, Android, and select Samsung devices.

If the format or device that you want the videos to be converted to is not listed, it is up to you to configure the output parameters manually.

You can also do that for profiles by the way, for instance to increase the output quality and save the information to a new profile that you use from that moment on.

The program supports the container formats mp4 and mkv, and leaves little to be desired in terms of conversion settings that you can modify.

From changing the size of the video over frames per second, audio codec or filters such as deblock or denoise.

The preview button that the program offers comes in handy in this case as you can use it to preview your current selection at any time. It takes a moment for the program to convert part of the selected video though and it may take a couple of tries until you are satisfied with the result.

Once you are, you should save the configuration as a new profile so that it becomes permanently available in the application.

The conversion process itself is simple: select an output directory, click start and watch progress of the conversion on the next screen.

You are probably wondering: if you are using HandBrake, why should you use this one instead? The application is easier to use in my opinion. You can batch add video files to it and start the conversion with just a couple of clicks. While HandBrake supports queues as well, it is not as easy to set up.

Closing Words

THandBrake is an easy to use program that offers solid conversion options. The main issue that some users may have in regards to it is that it does not support many output formats. While mp4 should be fine in most cases some may require support for other formats which the application does not offer.

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